I have been both snowed under and travelling like a madman lately, and therefore rather absent from this blog. Apologies.
The piece by me below appeared in The Mail on Sunday two days ago.
I would like to introduce it with the following thought. There are those who denounce any criticism of Russia, particularly over human rights, as a neo-con plot. That is plainly stupid.
On the blogosphere it is not hard to bump into the view that, on the international stage, anyone opposed to George Bush must be a good man, and any attack on anyone opposed to George Bush must be malicious. A much more probable scenario is that George Bush is a powerful and bad man, perhaps primus inter pares but nonetheless among many other powerful and bad men. Russia is in fact in the grip of vicious gangsters, ripping off the country with a freedom even the most ardent deregulatory neo-con in Washington could not conceive.
Investigative report: The Kremlin Killings
After a series of brutal murders of dissident journalists in Russia, Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, went to investigate.
His disturbing report reveals how deeply the cancer of criminality has infected Putin’s society
One Friday two months ago, Ivan Safronov, defence correspondent of the authoritative Kommersant newspaper in Moscow, made his way home from work.
After a mild winter, Moscow had turned cold in March and Safronov held a bag of groceries in one hand while keeping his coat closed against the snow with his other.
Arriving at the entrance to his grim Soviet-era apartment block, Safronov punched in the security code which opened the grey metal door at the entrance to the gloomy hallway.
So far this is a perfectly normal Moscow scene. But then ‘ and this is the official version of events ‘ Ivan Safronov apparently did something extraordinary.
He walked up the communal stairs, past his second-floor apartment to the top landing between the third and fourth floors.
Then, placing his groceries on the floor, he opened a window, climbed on to the sill and leapt to his death, becoming around the 160th (nobody can be certain of precise numbers) journalist to meet a violent end in post-communist Russia.
In the West, the cases of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, shot dead in her apartment block, and ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned by polonium in London last year, hit the headlines.
But in Russia, there was nothing exceptional about those killings. It’s long been understood that if you publish material that embarrasses or annoys those in power, you’re likely to come to a sticky end.
As always, the unedited original was rather better; I may post it if I can work out how to prevent its length taking over the entire page. A follow-up article will appear this Sunday.